New Mexico will fully reopen on June 30, provided 60% of eligible residents 16 years and older have been fully vaccinated by then. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the target during an afternoon news conference with Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins and Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase, which also detailed new county and state level metrics for measuring the state’s progress in curtailing the spread of the virus.
The governor said, based on projections, the state is on track to meet that 60% target. Currently, 41.6% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.
“We are weeks away,” Lujan Grisham said. “In nine weeks, New Mexico: We. Are. Open. And this is cause for incredible celebration and I’m extremely proud of all of our work getting to this point. I want us to fully embrace that New Mexico, today, is the first state, I believe, in the nation that can reach a percentage of population fully vaccinated that allows us to be fully open in the safest possible way, and this is amazing.”
In the meantime, Scrase said the state has finalized new metrics that have been under review for both the statewide gating criteria and the county-level red-to-turquoise framework.
For the statewide gating criteria, as previewed at last week’s news conference, the state raised the number of daily cases on a seven-day rolling average from 168 to 210 or less. Officials raised the test positivity rate target from 5 to 7.5%, as fewer people will be tested as vaccinations continue (vaccinated people are only recommended for tests if they have COVID symptoms), which will drive up the test positivity rates. The state also eliminated a previous benchmark tracking availability of Personal Protective Equipment that dated to earlier in the pandemic when PPE was in short supply.
The new county metrics go into effect April 30 and add vaccination rates into the mix. Under the current system, counties must have eight or fewer cases per 100,000 populations measured over a 14-day period, along with a test positivity rate of 5% or less. These will now increase to 10 cases and 7.5%, respectively.
In addition, counties will have their vaccination rates measured, with a target of 35% of residents fully vaccinated as of April 30, increasing to 40% for the next evaluation on May 4, and then increasing every two weeks by 5% (please note, the slide below says the new system goes into effect on May 4, but it begins on April 30).
The new criteria mean more counties, as of Friday, are set to move into green and turquoise. The two maps below compare counties’ status at last week’s evaluation on the left versus how they would have fared under the new criteria on the right, with 10 additional counties classified as turquoise and the number of green counties doubling, leaving only three counties yellow and none red.
On May 4, health officials will re-evaluate again, this time using the 40% vaccination criteria.
To qualify for the turquoise category, counties must meet all three criteria, but once they do, they will be re-evaluated every four weeks. To turn green now, counties must meet two of the three criteria. Counties only meeting one will be yellow and none will be red, as they were under the previous system. The allowable activities under each color category remain the same.
“The basic principle has been to identify those metrics that are the best measure of safety in communities,” Scrase said. “But our vaccination effort has been so successful that vaccination rates have become an overwhelming driver.”
Santa Fe County, which has remained turquoise since March 24, also meets the new 40% vaccination requirement: 46.2% in the county have been fully vaccinated. Overall, 20 counties have met or exceeded 40% fully vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard. Vaccination rates will include both state and federal vaccines administered to 16% and older, and will only use completed vaccine doses.
Health officials also say the new vaccination criteria will hopefully encourage others to seek out a vaccine. Currently, all New Mexicans 16 years and older can self-schedule their vaccines through the state’s vaccination registry. “I think we all know there’s been a slight lag in people’s interest in getting vaccinated,” Scrase said, “so we need all of your help in doing this.”
Scrase also crunched some numbers, based on recent data from the vaccination dashboard, showing that the state needs to vaccinate approximately 42,000 people each week to meet the June 30 target of 60% of eligible residents, or just over 1 million people. If all New Mexicans who still have one remaining dose finish the full cycle, the state would only need to fully vaccinate 46,729 people over the next two plus months, he said.
Collins also reiterated the importance of people completing their vaccination cycles, and encouraged anyone who is concerned about doing so to “get the facts” and talk with someone they trust about the vaccines. The state’s “Trusted Voices” campaign has been part of its vaccine hesitancy outreach efforts. Collins played one such video from Bishop David C. Cooper, president of the Ministers Fellowship in Albuquerque.
Collins emphasized the need for primary care providers to participate in offering vaccines to patients.
“As a primary care provider, we are in a unique position to hold meaningful conversations,” Collins said, “so I want to encourage all of my fellow primary care providers to encourage patients to get vaccinated, and to offer vaccinations to patients visiting for other reasons.”
Last, but definitely not least, the state will be adopting new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidance on face masks for those who are fully vaccinated. Masks will no longer be required when exercising outdoors alone or with members of the same household or attending a small, outdoor gathering of fully vaccinated individuals no larger than the applicable mass gathering limit for the county or 20 individuals, whichever is less.
Regardless of vaccination status, masks continue to be required in any public indoor space, except when eating or drinking, and in any public outdoor space where numerous vaccinated and unvaccinated people from multiple households are in close proximity.
As for those outdoor masks, Scrase said he plans not to wear one on his 5:30 am walk in Placitas when “no one else is around.” The governor said she would continue wearing a mask outside. Even when business capacities change following achievement of the 60% vaccination rate, masks and COVID-safe practices will remain in effect. “Masks will probably be the last thing to go,” Scrase said.
New Mexico health officials today reported 248 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 197,218. The health department has designated 178,003 of those cases as recovered.
Bernalillo County had 93 cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 34 and San Juan County with 24. Santa Fe County had 15 new cases.
The state also announced 12 additional deaths for the second day in a row; there have now been 4,051 fatalities.
Hospitalizations continue to rise: As of today, 136 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 (six more than yesterday and a 21% increase since Monday).*
- 93 new cases in Bernalillo County
- 7 new cases in Chaves County
- 1 new case in Cibola County
- 1 new case in Colfax County
- 1 new case in Curry County
- 1 new case in De Baca County
- 34 new cases in Doña Ana County
- 9 new cases in Eddy County
- 2 new cases in Grant County
- 1 new case in Hidalgo County
- 1 new case in Lea County
- 4 new cases in Lincoln County
- 2 new cases in Los Alamos County
- 2 new cases in Luna County
- 9 new cases in McKinley County
- 4 new cases in Otero County
- 1 new case in Quay County
- 5 new cases in Rio Arriba County
- 3 new cases in Roosevelt County
- 15 new cases in Sandoval County
- 24 new cases in San Juan County
- 15 new cases in Santa Fe County
- 2 new cases in Sierra County
- 1 new case in Socorro County
- 2 new cases in Torrance County
- 5 new cases in Valencia County
- 2 new cases among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County
- 1 new case among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Otero County Prison Facility
- A female in her 40s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
- A male in his 70s from Bernalillo County
- A male in his 80s from Bernalillo County who had underlying conditions and was a resident of the BeeHive Homes San Pedro facility in Albuquerque
- A male in his 90s from Bernalillo County who had underlying conditions
- A female in her 60s from Curry County who had underlying conditions
- A male in his 90s from Doña Ana County
- A female in her 80s from Eddy County who had underlying conditions
- A female in her 40s from Sandoval County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
- A female in her 60s from Sandoval County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
- A male in his 60s from Sandoval County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
- A female in her 70s from Sandoval County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
- A male in his 50s from Sierra County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
The Department of Health has identified at least one positive COVID-19 case in residents and/or staff in the past 28 days at the following facilities:
- Albuquerque Heights Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center
- Bear Canyon Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
- Belen Meadows Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Belen
- Brookdale Santa Fe
- Brookdale Valencia in Albuquerque
- Genesis Healthcare Uptown in Albuquerque
- Genesis Silver City Care Center in Silver City
- Good Samaritan Society – Betty Dare in Alamogordo
- New Mexico State Veterans Home in Truth or Consequences
- Princeton Place in Albuquerque
- Welbrook Senior Living in Las Cruces
- White Sands Healthcare in Hobbs
According to a health department news release, previously reported numbers included 26 cases that have been identified as duplicates (eight in Bernalillo County, one in Curry County, five in Doña Ana County, six in Eddy County, one in San Miguel County and five in Santa Fe County) and one case in Santa Fe County that was not lab confirmed—these have now been corrected. County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.
- Bernalillo County: 56,711
- Catron County: 90
- Chaves County: 8,892
- Cibola County: 2,864
- Colfax County: 747
- Curry County: 5,100
- De Baca County: 140
- Doña Ana County: 24,543
- Eddy County: 6,791
- Grant County: 1,690
- Guadalupe County: 377
- Harding County: 10
- Hidalgo County: 360
- Lea County: 8,268
- Lincoln County: 1,648
- Los Alamos County: 518
- Luna County: 3,300
- McKinley County: 12,227
- Mora County: 169
- Otero County: 3,773
- Quay County: 446
- Rio Arriba County: 3,574
- Roosevelt County: 1,889
- Sandoval County: 11,829
- San Juan County: 14,424
- San Miguel County: 1,341
- Santa Fe County: 10,092
- Sierra County: 746
- Socorro County: 1,308
- Taos County: 1,654
- Torrance County: 713
- Union County: 250
- Valencia County: 6,619
Cases among people being held by federal agencies
- Cibola County Correctional Center: 446
- Otero County Federal Prison Facility: 444
- Otero County Processing Center: 198
- Torrance County Detention Facility: 47
Cases among people being held by the New Mexico Department of Corrections
- Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 298
- Guadalupe County Correctional Facility: 251
- Lea County Correctional Facility: 762
- Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 167
- Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 127
- Otero County Prison Facility: 473
- Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 218
- Roswell Correctional Center: 229
- Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County: 229
- Springer Correctional Center in Colfax County: 151
- Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County: 75
*Per the health department, hospitalization figures include people who were tested elsewhere but are hospitalized in New Mexico, but don’t include people who were tested here but are hospitalized out of state.